As a key employer in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Engman-Taylor believes it has a civic duty to its community. “I really think we should give back a portion of what we make when we make it,” President Rick Star says.

The industrial distributor has found many conduits for its community service aspirations over the years. Star himself was motivated to advance the company’s charitable giving after his mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2008. “We decided at Engman-Taylor we’re going to do something positive to memorialize her,” he says. The company and its employees became involved in cancer organizations and events. Engman-Taylor supports the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and is the primary sponsor for the PurpleStride run/walk at Miller Park and Fight for Air Climb in Milwaukee.

Although the company represents more than 30 high-end kitchen and bath product lines, it’s not just its catalog that makes Decorative Plumbing Distributors (DPD) Inc. stand out in California. According to founder and President Eric Locke, DPD sets itself apart in the marketplace not because of what it provides, but to whom it provides it. “We focus on only wholesalers and showrooms,” Locke says. ”We are able to fulfill both the residential and commercial needs of our customers in California and nationwide from one of our two locations.”

The company has built up a strong customer base of wholesalers and showrooms over the years, whereas many of its competitors try to sell to homeowners and plumbers as well. Locke says DPD’s strict focus on those two customer types provides it with one of its strongest advantages, but it’s far from the only reason why the company has become a success. 

Cfm Distributors Inc. is in the business of solving its customers’ problems, Vice President Phillip Martin says. “In the industry, we are known as the company people go to solve problems and get the job done right,” he says.

Kansas City, Mo.-based cfm is a wholesale distributor of heating, cooling and refrigeration products. Founders Amos Roberts and Bruce Huffman started the company in 1969 after working as sales representatives for a manufacturer. 

Today, cfm operates as a 100 percent ESOP, which has noticeably benefited the company. “It adds a whole new level of customer service and engagement from our employee-owners,” Martin says. “Our customers enjoy the family atmosphere and the care that they are given.

Caltrol Inc. CEO Joe Taormina is quick to emphasize one of the most important characteristics of the company he leads. The organization is employee-owned, a significant benefit that has delivered meaningful results for the industrial process automation representative.

The Las Vegas-based company, which was established in 1934,is an employee-owned stock ownership plan (ESOP), which provides the workforce with an ownership interest in the company. Caltrol has been employee-owned since 1986.

B&D Industrial’s simple yet powerful corporate philosophy is nothing more than a slight twist on the golden rule. “We treat our customers the way we want to be treated,” President and CEO Andy Nations says.

Andy’s father, John Nations, founded the company upon that axiom in 1947 when he started Bearings and Drives – the oldest and original B&D Industrial company. Today, B&D Industrial is the corporate umbrella for three specialized divisions: B&D Technologies, B&D Service and Scale Systems. The company recently celebrated a milestone with sales topping the $100 million mark.

The three divisions have more than 30 locations in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Louisiana. This allows B&D Industrial to provide advantageous in-stock products with inventories and repair services customized to local industries. 

Achieving 75 years in business is no small feat, and Auer Steel & Heating Supply Co. has much to celebrate. Founded in 1940 in a single small building on Milwaukee’s Auer Avenue, the company is today a full-service distributor of high-quality indoor comfort products.

“What sets us apart is service, training, inventory and reliability,” Vice President Joe Curtes says. “The customer is king. We have to not only sell to our customers but also help them sell to their clients.”

Atlanta Light Bulbs has established itself as the premier lighting source in metropolitan Atlanta over the past 34 years and is always innovating to provide more value-added services. The company this year formed ALB Energy Solutions to offer turnkey energy solutions for its customers. “The response has been great,” CEO Doug Root says. “What we are trying to do is offer customers significant savings through energy-efficient solutions.” 

Root’s father, Gary Root, started an electrical and control components business in 1978, selling control panels, gears and fuses with a three-person staff. After a few years in business, one of his customers inquired about lighting products and Gary Root found lighting services to be in high demand. In 1981, he started Atlanta Light Bulbs.

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